Verdict from 42 experts and +100 user reviews

6 reasons to buy

  • Carbon plate: Many runners love how gently propulsive the plate is in the Carbon X. It feels less harsh and stiff compared to most carbon-plated shoes.
  • Rocker geometry: More than a few users note that the midsole design functions like a rocking chair and ensures a smooth transition together with the plate.
  • Cushioning: “Optimally firm,” “bouncy,” “fluid,” “plentiful” - these are some of the most common descriptions of the ProFly X midsole.
  • Fit: A lot of wearers agree that the upper molds the foot well, provides great lockdown, firm heel hold, and ample toe room.
  • Breathability: The light and airy fabric is recommended for summer heat and humidity by most users. Some also note that it has excellent moisture drainage.
  • Stability: For a super shoe, the Carbon X has a wide and stable platform, multiple expert reviewers note.

4 reasons not to buy

  • Requires getting used to: More than a few runners warn that the unique construction of this running shoe can feel awkward at first, especially if it’s your first maximalist carbon shoe.
  • Weight: It can feel bottom-heavy on shorter sprints and marathon distances, according to some athletes.
  • Not for heel strikers: Some reviewers complain that the midsole lacks fluidity in transitions when heel striking.
  • Durability: Because of the exposed midsole at the bottom, most runners expect it to last for about 300-400 miles at best.

Bottom line

The Hoka One One Carbon X is a max-cushioned yet fast shoe for training and racing on long distances. It is an elite carbon-plated option from Hoka whose job is to encourage the runner to speed up.

While the intent is similar to that of Nike’s premium AlphaFly Next% racer, the Carbon X takes a back seat because of heavier weight and firmer ride. Instead, it is a cheaper, more stable, and durable option to consider for tempo runs and races.

Carbon X’s lighter and faster race sibling: Hoka One One Rocket X

Comparable shoe from Nike: Nike Zoom Fly 3

Tip: see the best running shoes.

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Video reviews

Hoka One One Carbon X: run longer, run faster

The Hoka One One Carbon X is considered by many to be one of the powerful running shoes available in the market today. It features the carbon fiber plate that allows runners to achieve a smoother heel-to-toe transition.

Here are some of the other technologies that make the shoe stand out from the Hoka road running selection:

PROFLY X foam: This material comes on the firmer, more responsive, and more resilient side, which works best during long-distance speed runs. It is also one of the lightest midsole materials that don't weigh the foot down.

The early-stage Meta-Rocker: This component of the footwear, along with the wider forefoot platform, aims to provide a propulsive and quick ride, allowing runners to experience a more stable and satisfying run.

Gusseted tongue: It keeps debris and other elements from entering the shoe while running. It also enhances comfort and overall fit.

Record-setting shoe

The Hoka Carbon X was on the feet of Jim Walmsley, an American long-distance runner and Hoka athlete, when we broke the world’s 50-mile record in spring 2019. His result was 4:50:07, 14 seconds faster than the previous 1983 record set by Bruce Fordyce. 

How Carbon X compares

This shoe: 91
All shoes average: 81
54 93
This shoe: $180
All shoes average: $119
$40 $350
This shoe: 8.7oz
All shoes average: 9.5oz
3.5oz 15.4oz
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.